« AnteriorContinuar »
that they remember, though it should be ever so fashionable^ though it has been invisible to men; and that which chiefly affects them in all sins, is their offensiveness to God.
4. In the activity shewn in pursuit of these several ends. If we act as in earnest to gain some earthly good, repine at no pains, but can contentedly sit up late, and rise up early, and eat the bread of carefulness for that purpose; while we proceed with negligence and indifference in pursuit of the prize of glory: it here we can satisfy ourselves with good words, cold wishes, faint endeavours, and very uncertain hopes: such conduct is too plain a sign of the prevalence of the carnal mind. "Many will thus seek to enter into heaven, but shall not be able," Luke xiii. 24. The spiritually minded will act at another rate; they will take Jieaven by violence: and be especially fervent in spirit, when they are serving the Lord; as such who are determined to gain their point, whatever it costs them, and to run their Christian race so as to obtain.
5. In the balance given to the several interests of flesh and spirit, when they come in competition. This comparative view sets men in the clearest light for discovery to themselves and others. Thus Christ put Peter upon the trial of himself, "Lovest thou me, more than these?" John xxi. 15. And in this Christ only called Peter to examine the state of bis soul; by a rule which had been more generally delivered before, for the use of all his disciples, Matt. x. S7• "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of ine." The same thing is expressed in stronger terms, Luke xiv. 26. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren and sisters, yea and his own life also; he cannot be my disciple. This hating of them can mean no more than a readiness so to' behave in reference to them, if Christ and they come in competition, as without such a reason would look like Jutting one's Olvn Jlesh. There may be occasions wherein we cannot maintain a good conscience, without going contrary to the judgments, and resisting the importunities of intimate friends and dear relations; or without losing the favor of those, to whom otherwise it would be our interest and inclination to approve ourselves. Or the trial may go farther: unless we
will forbear what we apprehend to be our duty, or do something which we judge sinful, we shall not only run great hazards in our own persons; but also the present interests of our families are like to suffer, and those who are dear and near to us, to be involved in great temporal inconveniences. This is a very pressing difficulty, when God in his providence brings any to it; but after all, these are no better than fleshly motives, when set against duty and conscience: and here the carnally minded are like to break with Christ; but the spiritually minded will shew that their love to their master is supreme. The improvement I would call you to make of this first branch of the subject, which I have gone through, viz. an explication of the two opposite tempers mentioned in the text; is, to press you carefully to examine yourselves upon this important and distinguishing head of religion. It will be a very melancholy case, if those can make a shift to evade a conviction, that the bent of their hearts is wrong and ruinous, who bear undeniable marks of a carnal mind reigning in them : such for instance, as give themselves up to work all uncleanness with greediness ; who live in a course of sensuality, making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. But yet others should not conclude hastily, that they belong to the class of the spiritually minded, merely because they have escaped the gross pollutions that are in the world. It should be remembered that the young man in the gospel could say this ; and yet had that love of present things predominate in him, though unperceived by himself till the trial; which induced him to leave Christ, when he must either abandon him or his portion in this life, Matt. xix. 20–22. - Let none think themselves freed from the ascendant of a carnal mind, barely because they statedly attend on the outward means, which are appointed for their spiritual advantage. Christ has intimated that men may “pray and fast, and give alms, only to be seen of men,” Matt. vi. which is a mere carnal aim : and that they may eat and drink in his presence, and yet be pronounced by him workers of iniquity. Esteem not yourselves among the spiritual, barely because you are right in your opinions, or because you receive the truths of the gospel with a flash of affection. The devils believe the
most important truths, and tremble at them. And we find, tlw stony ground received the word with joy.
In truth, you should rest upon nothing as a foundation for a favorable judgment concerning yourselves, short of what will prove a prevailing bent of heart to the spirit, more than to the flesh: that is, that commonly the bias turns this way; that this is your allowed and approved temper; that your relish of spiritual things has a suitable practical influence; and that you are upon the advance in such a disposition,, tending toward the perfect day.
A CARNAL AND A SPIRITUAL MIND.
RoM. viii. 6.
For to be carnally minded, is death ; but to be spiritwally minded, is life and peace.
HE different tempers of mind, which are here expres
sed by the phrases of being carnally minded, and
spiritually minded, have been distinctly explained in a former discourse. I am now,
II. To consider what the apostle affixes to each character to shew the evil and hatefulness of being carnally minded, and the goodness and excellence of being spiritually minded. The characters are not more opposite than their attendants and consequences. To be carnally minded, is death; but to be spiritually minded, is life and peace.
A lively and moving description this is of that, which stands inseparably connected with these different tempers of soul, though expressed in a few words.
Life is the most desirable thing that can be to most people. “Skin for skin, and all that a man hath will he give for his hfe.” And accordingly this word is used in scripture metaphorically, to express the greatest good. Death, on the other hand, is naturally the dread of mankind; and therefore the greatest evils are in scripture-language expressed by it. Peace joined with life, if we should take it in the latitude, in which it is often to be understood in the Hebrew stile, comprehends all that is good and desirable. That was the Jewish salutation, peace be unto you ; as if it were said, all happiness to
you. But the sense of the word here seems rather more confined, and to stand opposed to that which is declared of the carnal mind in the verse following the text. The carnal mind is enmity against God. , It carries in it direct hostility against him: and therefore cannot fail to entail upon a man the dreadful misery of having God for his enemy; so it follows, ver. 8. "They that are in the flesh, cannot please God."
And how unavoidable is it in such a case, if a man has any sense left, that he cannot be at peace with himself? In opposition to this, a spiritual mind is peace. He, who is of that temper, is at peace with God; and has a solid foundation for peace in his own breast.
I shall directly insist upon the former characters, of death and life; in the consideration of which the other will be comprehended. Death and life stand most certainly and unalterably annexed to these different dispositions of the soul, the carnal and the spiritual mind: which is true, both in the nature of the thing, and by the sentence and constitution of God.
1. In the very nature of the thing, to be carnally minded is death, spiritual death. But to be spiritually minded is life, the truest life of the soul. He who is carnally minded is truly dead While he lives, as is said of a person devoted to pleasure, 1 Tim. v. G. "dead in trespasses and sins," Eph. ii. 1. But the spiritually minded man is "dead unto sin, but alive unto God," Rom. vi. 11. This is a frequent method in scripture of representing the case; and a very just and proper one; for, as far as the bent is toward spiritual things, so far the soul is alive in the truest and noblest sense. Life capacitates for action and enjoyment; death disables for both. And for this reason we esteem human life in this world most perfect, in that period which we call the state of manhood, in opposition to infancy and childhood on the one hand, and to enfeebled age on the other; because at maturity it is more capable of the actions becoming the reasonable capacities, than in tender years; and more fit to enjoy the delights and satisfactions, which are suitable to our nature, than in the decline of life, when indeed we rather sigh and groan than live. Upon the same account to be spiritually minded is life, the truest and most suitable life of a reasonable creature; whereby he